Expats rank Hong Kong as a safe place to bring up children

by Ray Clancy on November 1, 2012

Expats in Hong Kong feel their children are safe to spend more time outdoors

Hong Kong is regarded by expats as safe and healthy places to bring up children where they are more likely to spend time outdoors, a survey has found.

Some 91% of expats in Hong Kong said that the safety of their children had improved since relocating. Parents report that their children are able to spend more time outdoors and 48% believe they are able to spend more time with their children since moving.

The results are the highest of any country and well above the average figure of 60%, making the country the safest place to raise children in this year’s HSBC Expat Explorer Survey.

In contrast, the UK is the lowest ranked country in terms of safety with only a third, 34%, of expat parents indicating that their children’s safety had improved since moving to the UK and 26% stating that their children’s safety had actually got worse since moving.

A fifth of expats living in Canada said that of all of the expat locations, they would choose to relocate elsewhere within the country rather than choose a new location or move back to their home country. Canada was also highly rated by expats in the USA (9%) and the UAE (12%).

Australia was also named as a great place to bring up children with expat parents in the Netherlands (10%), UK (10%) and Hong Kong (10%) all choosing it as a possible future home. As with Canada, a high proportion of expat parents in Australia (17%) would choose to stay within the country if they were to move, rather than choose to move elsewhere.

The survey also reveals that safety is obviously a top concern for parents when deciding to relocate to a different country along with social integration.

Children have the most difficulty coping with the change in culture in Middle East countries. Six out of ten expat parents in Saudi Arabia reported that the social integration of their children had become worse since relocating, as did 40% in Kuwait and 34% in the United Arab Emirates, all of which is well above average of 26%.

With poor social integration comes a higher propensity for expat children in the Middle East to spend more time playing video games and watching TV. In Saudi Arabia, nearly half, 47%, of children spend more time playing video games than they did in their home country, and the story is the same for the UAE at 44% and Kuwait at 33%.

The region also ranks among the highest for the amount of time spent watching TV, with Saudi Arabia taking the top spot with 63%, closely followed by the UAE and Kuwait both at 48%. This is compared to a global average of 31%.

A possible explanation for this may be the severe temperatures that are common in the Middle East outside of the winter months where temperatures can often reach 40 degrees Celsius. The need to keep children indoors and away from the scorching heat could be a factor in the increasing likelihood of watching TV and playing video games.

Perhaps as a consequence of the limited social integration and need to concentrate on indoor activities, expat children in the Middle East are likely to be missing home, especially in Kuwait (55%), Saudi Arabia (51%) and the UAE (38%).

When it comes to the cost of raising children abroad expat parents in the Middle East are most likely to report an increase since relocation, especially in the UAE (77%), Saudi Arabia (70%) and Kuwait (67%).

Expat parents in the UAE in particular reported that the cost of children’s education (86%) and the overall cost of raising children (87%) as being more expensive when compared to their home country.

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